Activation of a naive T cell is a highly energetic event, which requires a substantial increase in nutrient metabolism. Upon stimulation, T cells increase in size, rapidly proliferate, and differentiate, all of which lead to a high demand for energetic and biosynthetic precursors. Although amino acids are the basic building blocks of protein biosynthesis and contribute to many other metabolic processes, the role of amino acid metabolism in T cell activation has not been well characterized. We have found that glutamine in particular is required for T cell function. Depletion of glutamine blocks proliferation and cytokine production, and this cannot be rescued by supplying biosynthetic precursors of glutamine. Correlating with the absolute requirement for glutamine, T cell activation induces a large increase in glutamine import, but not glutamate import, and this increase is CD28-dependent. Activation coordinately enhances expression of glutamine transporters and activities of enzymes required to allow the use of glutamine as a Krebs cycle substrate in T cells. The induction of glutamine uptake and metabolism requires ERK function, providing a link to TCR signaling. Together, these data indicate that regulation of glutamine use is an important component of T cell activation. Thus, a better understanding of glutamine sensing and use in T cells may reveal novel targets for immunomodulation.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Immunology and Allergy